Now, About Those Differences, Part Twenty Four

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The entire “Now About Those Differences” series is available here.

Fellowship and the Evangelical Spectrum

Finally we come to the hard part. I have been writing about fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. In the process, I have tried to articulate briefly a vision of Christian fellowship and separation. This vision involves a boundary (the gospel), outside of which no Christian fellowship is possible. It also involves a center, the whole counsel of God. Increasing levels of fellowship necessarily index to this center.

In my thinking, separation is simply the absence of fellowship. Outside of the boundary, separation is absolute. No Christian recognition should ever be given. Inside the boundary, separation is decided by the extent to which we Christians mutually hold the faith (the whole counsel of God) in its integrity.

Even among fundamentalists, certain separations are unavoidable. These separations are forced upon us when we cannot jointly hold the whole counsel of God in its integrity. In that sense, each separation includes some element of censure. Nevertheless, separation at one level does not necessarily require separation at every other level. Nor do these separations necessarily require that we adopt a contemptuous attitude toward one another. To the contrary, separations can and usually should be carried out with grace and charity.

At the risk of publicly embarrassing a friend, let me cite an example. Some years ago, God in His grace allowed me to make the acquaintance of Dr. Michael Barrett, president of Geneva Reformed Seminary. Dr. Barrett is a committed Presbyterian, while I am a Baptist by conviction. He is a covenant theologian (though a premillennialist), while I am a dispensationalist (though hardly of the Hal Lindsey variety).

It should go without saying that Dr. Barrett and I find our fellowship limited in a number of areas. Both our ecclesiology and our eschatology differ at important points. He is not going to ask me to lecture on baptism and I am not going to ask him to make speeches about pretribulationism.

More importantly, we cannot be pastors in the same church. Dr. Barrett probably could not in good conscience pastor a church that strictly forbade infant baptism. I could not pastor a church that allowed it. Consequently, Dr. Barrett and I are not likely to plant any churches together.

In other words, we separate from one another. We separate in every area that requires a commitment to those areas of eschatology or ecclesiology over which we differ. We cannot cooperate in any way that would require either of us to surrender his obedience (as he understands it) to Christ.

Do not make the mistake, however, of thinking that Dr. Barrett and I see one another as enemies or even opponents. Far from it. When it comes to an understanding of the beauty of holiness, of the majesty of God and the mercy of the Savior, of the importance of gracious affections and the role of sober worship, I find that I have far more in common with Dr. Barrett than I do with most Baptists or dispensationalists.

For the sake of those things, I have a deep respect and love for Dr. Barrett, and I am convinced that he reciprocates. Each of us shares concerns with the other that we share with few other people. We pray for one another. Both of us yearn for God’s best blessings in the ministry of the other. Most germanely, we are committed to fellowshipping and collaborating wherever it is legitimately possible.

To put it baldly, I grieve to be separated from Mike at any level. I see our separation as an evil, and I yearn for the day when our fellowship will be utterly unhindered. If there were a legitimate way of overcoming that separation now, I would pursue it.

Our separation is an evil (an evil circumstance, not an evil act), but it is a necessary evil in view of the alternatives. One alternative would be for one of us to abandon his commitment to obeying Christ. The other alternative would be for us to pretend hypocritically that we are not divided in those areas where divisions really exist. I would sin against Dr. Barrett by asking him to do either of these things.

Until one of us can convince the other of the error of his ways (not a likely prospect at this point in our lives), Dr. Barrett and I will continue to separate from one another where we must. We will also fellowship and work together where we can. We will do both to the glory of God, precisely because we care about one another.

This ought to be our attitude toward all fundamentalists with whom we differ. Indeed, it ought to be our attitude toward all other Christians who stand in some degree of error. We ought to separate where we must, fellowship where we can, and love one another withal.

In my opinion, the now-old new evangelicals were guilty of a very serious error. It was as serious as a Christian can commit. I also believe that hyper-fundamentalists are guilty of errors that are (nearly?) as serious. Very few levels exist at which I can overtly cooperate with exemplars of either group. Fellowship in both instances is severely truncated. Nevertheless, I find leaders in each group who challenge me spiritually and whose examples (at least in limited areas) I wish to emulate. Furthermore, where they are obedient to the Lord and genuinely trying to serve Him, I want them to succeed.

Other fundamentalists do not necessarily draw the lines where I do. On one hand, some are more willing than I am to cooperate on the neoevangelical side. For example, Carl F. H. Henry (one of the original neoevangelicals) would sometimes attend chapel at Maranatha Baptist Bible College, where he would be asked to lead students and faculty in prayer. On the other hand, some are more willing than I am to cooperate on the hyper-fundamentalist side. Bob Jones University, for instance, has featured Clarence Sexton (a King James Only advocate) on its platform.

So what? My conscience, my attempt to apply biblical principles, does not govern the ministries of others. I am perfectly willing to concede that they may have the best reasons for making the decisions that they have made. Our ability to apply the principles of Scripture is often influenced by the circumstances in which we find ourselves and by the perceptions that control us. We need to allow each other a measure of latitude to apply those principles differently.

Limits still exist, of course. Even if we recognize that we are making judgment calls, we know that some judgments are better than others. A consistent pattern of poor judgments may lead us to rethink our relationship with a leader or an institution. We may even be constrained to offer a rebuke or a warning. Even then, however, we need to discipline ourselves to act with grace and charity, lest our separations become an endless round of one-upmanship and self promotion.

So what about my own actual choices? Two are worth mentioning.

The first occurred several years ago when I was invited to preach for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, International. After I had accepted, I learned that I was to share the platform with Clarence Sexton. Some fundamentalists encouraged me to withdraw my name from the conference (i.e., to separate from the FBFI because of its affiliation with Pastor Sexton).

On my view, sharing a platform constitutes a relatively low level of mutuality and commitment, ceteris paribus. I believe that one’s presence on a platform entails little if any endorsement of the other speakers or of their positions. Reasonable people of all sorts are able to understand the differences between individuals who happen to be speaking at the same event. In my estimation, so-called “platform fellowship” is only a notch above personal fellowship in terms of its requirements.

Other fundamentalists weigh platform fellowship more seriously. This is probably not the place for a full discussion of that subject, though I believe that the interaction would be very useful. Whatever our conclusions, we do need to bear one factor in mind: we must apply our principles consistently. Those who believe that platform fellowship does constitute a significant endorsement are responsible to separate from friends as well as from opponents, from those on their Right as well as those to their Left. The greatest argument against the fundamentalists’ insistence upon highlighting platform fellowship is the inconsistency of the very fundamentalists who are most likely to make that argument.

At any rate, I did not believe that I should withdraw from the FBFI platform over the presence of Pastor Sexton. My presence there was no endorsement of his views in the King James debate, nor was his presence any endorsement of mine. In other words, I was not prepared to separate from the FBFI over the invitation of Clarence Sexton (who, I must add, I appreciate at several levels).

More recently, I have applied the same principle in a different direction. I was asked to speak this coming February at a conference being hosted by Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary. This is a conference at which I have spoken many times in the past. This time, I was told that Dr. Mark Dever would be on the platform. In many ways I am a great admirer of Pastor Dever, but the differences between us are quite real. We differ markedly over dispensationalism, over limited atonement, and over the value of the Southern Baptist Convention. Pastor Dever is a committed Southern Baptist, while I question the value of affiliating with a convention that will not respect at least the fundamentals as a test of fellowship (I am speaking here of convention membership and participation, not of institutional employment).

These differences limit the possibility of cooperation with Pastor Dever at more than one level. Nevertheless, appearing on the same platform does not (as I see it) constitute an endorsement of his views in those areas over which we differ. If it did, Mark would be as eager to avoid endorsing my views as I am to avoid endorsing his!

The issues over which I differ with Dever are less serious than the issues over which I differ with Sexton. In both cases, however, my thinking is essentially the same. We cannot cooperate in areas where we really have no fellowship. Our actual fellowship is limited wherever we do not hold the whole counsel of God together. Where we do, the fellowship is real and cooperation ought to be possible. Platform presence generally constitutes a very low level of cooperation and requires minimal agreement in the faith. I was not willing to separate from the FBFI over Clarence Sexton, and I am even less willing to separate from Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary over Mark Dever.

As I write these words, I do so with full awareness that either Calvary Seminary or the FBFI may see things differently. One or the other (or both!) might very well choose to separate from me. That, too, is part of the judgment that they must make, and I must grant them liberty to make it. I am not the one to whom they will answer.

For my part, the dictum is pretty simple. Let us separate where we must. Let us fellowship where we can. Let us love one another withal.

Advent, 2
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Earth grown old, yet still so green,
Deep beneath her crust of cold
Nurses fire unfelt, unseen:
Earth grown old.

We who live are quickly told:
Millions more lie hid between
Inner swathings of her fold.

When will fire break up her screen?
When will life burst thro’ her mould?
Earth, earth, earth, thy cold is keen,
Earth grown old.

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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When I entered graduate

When I entered graduate school at BJU 30 years ago, I discovered the Free Presbyterian Church after a year of visiting churches. That was the start of a friendship in the Gospel that continues to this day and I wish to add my personal "Amen" to what Dr. Bauder has written. When I preached for them they would refer to me as "Ron the Baptist" and our differences were never seen as reasons for separation. These people encouraged me in the ministry and challenged me to pray and to preach Christ; often to a greater extent than some of my Baptist brethren. I thank God for my brothers who are not my twins.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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About Those Differences

Thanks, Dr. Bauder, for this latest article in a series of excellent aticles. You have thought through and articulated common sense and Bible truth in an area where many of us have wrestled without coming to final clarity.

I hope you will consider publishing these articles as a book. Any chance?

Warm regards,
Greg

G. N. Barkman

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Dr. Bauder . . . .

Dr. Bauder is somewhat of an enigma--he is neither the Patron Saint that his adorers portray nor is he the wretched deceitful sinner that his opponents depict. He is a man like the rest of us. In this article, Dr. Bauder shows good sense. He demonstrates an obvious attempt for fairness and a moderate approach to a heated subject. Although I don't agree with some of his points, I must give him a thumbs-up for his approach and effort.

There are, however, several points that I would like to discuss. Dr. Bauder is leaving out something, I think, in his definition of separation.

Dr. Bauder wrote:
In my thinking, separation is simply the absence of fellowship. Outside of the boundary, separation is absolute. No Christian recognition should ever be given. Inside the boundary, separation is decided by the extent to which we Christians mutually hold the faith (the whole counsel of God) in its integrity.
IMHO, this definition needs to specify that separation, as we are speaking of it, is a choice base on a reason. We are separated from many ministries because of distance or knowledge. There are, no doubt, many ministries or individuals with whom I would gladly fellowship if I only knew them. We are separated, not by doctrine or practice, but separation is by lack of opportunity. I doubt that Dr. Bauder intended to imply incidental separation but let the man speak for himself.

Biblically, separation is a matter of choice and intent. Separation is based on some difference that precludes cooperation and fellowship. This parting does not necessarily have to be belligerent but it usually is. It simply means no fellowship and no cooperation. The kicker is that there is no consensus on what constitutes grounds for separation and we are separated on our views of separation.

My other point is to suggest consideration from another point of view. As I understand Dr. Bauder, he would separate (i.e. not fellowship with) Dr. Clarence Sexton based on Dr. Sexton's KJV position. Judge Learned Hand said, "Do not judge another man until you've walked a day in his shoes." That's very good advice. Let's stand in Dr. Sexton's shoes. For some who believe that the KJV is the Word of God (and Dr. Bauder says that he believes this too), it would a denial of this belief if they believed that other MV's were also the Word of God. So, in being consistent with their own belief, which Dr. Bauder apparently believes as well, they must say that they are KJVO. If the KJV is the Word of God, how can there be other differing versions that are also the Word of God? It is the answer to this one question that is the major demarcation between Bauder and Sexton. Does this one answer constitute grounds for general separation? Now, admittedly, there are extremists who grab the headlines and lambaste MV's but the vast majority are moderates who simply believe. Is it right to judge all who believe the KJV is the Word of God by the extremists? Is it right to judge independent Baptists by Fred Phelps?

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I guess I don't understand

I think Dr. Bauder has provided a pretty good working model of how limiting fellowship works in this article, and I thank him for it. What I don't understand is how it fits with the previous one.

In the prior article, Dr. Sexton was labeled as a hyper-fundamentalist because he is part of the KJVO "movement" (if there really is such a thing). Notice that Crown College is specifically mentioned:

Quote:
Neoevangelicalism and hyper-fundamentalism are equal errors. Whatever we should have done in response to the new evangelicals is the same thing that we should do now in response to hyper-fundamentalists. Historic, mainstream, biblical fundamentalism has no more in common with Pensacola, Crown, and West Coast than it had with Ockenga, Carnell, and Graham.

As such, we are "Biblically obligated" to separate from them, just as much as we are to separate from neo-evangelicals:
Quote:
In my opinion, fundamentalists are biblically obligated to separate from brethren who practice the neoevangelical philosophy. In the same way, and for much the same reasons, we are also obligated to separate from hyper-fundamentalists. We should not separate from either group as if they are apostates or enemies. Nevertheless, our ability to work with them is limited by their errors.

In fact:
Quote:
If we believe in separation, we ought to be separating from hyper-fundamentalists more quickly and more publicly than we do from conservative evangelicals.

Then we come to this article, in which we learn that actually, complete separation from Clarence Sexton is not appropriate or justified. In fact, separation from Clarence Sexton is just the same as it is from Michael Barrett (another fundamentalist) or from Mark Devers (a conservative evangelicall) -- fellowship where you can, and separate in those areas where you must.

In other words, all the assertions in the prior article that we must particularly separate (and publicly, too) from KJVOers were simply sound and fury, signifying nothing. Dr. Bauder doesn't believe we are Biblically obligated to separate from them in general any more than we are Biblically obligated to separate from anyone else. He may feel that he is closer akin to the conservative evangelicals, and so does not need to separate from them in as many areas as he needs to separate from Clarence Sexton. But there is no lesser or greater "Biblical obligation" with them than with any other believer -- just more areas where he personally must apply that Biblical obligation.

In other words, the whole premise of the prior article, by Dr. Bauder's words in this article, is shown to be deeply flawed. There is no great difference between separation from conservative evangelicals and separation from hyper-fundies. The need to limit fellowship is the same for all believers, and we apply it as we must. For Dr. Bauder, that permits "platform-sharing" with both Mark Devers and Clarence Sexton. It would presumably prevent even platform sharing with Grady, perhaps. You fellowship where you can, you limit fellowship where you must.

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let's explore the possibility of fellowship with Billy Graham

Kevin Bauder wrote:
The issues over which I differ with Dever are less serious than the issues over which I differ with Sexton. In both cases, however, my thinking is essentially the same. We cannot cooperate in areas where we really have no fellowship. Our actual fellowship is limited wherever we do not hold the whole counsel of God together. Where we do, the fellowship is real and cooperation ought to be possible. Platform presence generally constitutes a very low level of cooperation and requires minimal agreement in the faith. I was not willing to separate from the FBFI over Clarence Sexton, and I am even less willing to separate from Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary over Mark Dever.

You know, there are a lot of things we hold in common with Billy Graham. Using Kevin's rationale, "the fellowship is real and cooperation ought to be possible." And since platform presence is a very low level of cooperation, I think we should see how we can get Billy Graham and Kevin Bauder to share a platform, don't you?

Well, I realize that isn't likely to happen, especially since Billy isn't doing much platform sharing even with himself these days. Perhaps we could get Franklin to substitute. Or pick a name from the evangelical spectrum. We hold a lot of truth in common with these men. We should seek to find where we ought to be able to fellowship, don't you think?

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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JG, Dr. Bauder is making

JG,

Dr. Bauder is making clear that few of his separation choices would be simply binary. He might not have Sexton speak at Central, but would share a conference platform, depending.

Don,

If Bauder sees Dever as less problematic than Sexton, I imagine Graham would have his own, more severe, level of problematicism (heh).

His point is separation by gradiation, dependant on level of error. You can't throw in a Hitler figure (Graham) and ask why he'd treat him like Dever or Sexton. He wouldn't/we shouldn't.

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Is Non-Fellowship Really Separation?

My question concerns non-fellowship being equated as separation. This doesn't seem to include the "mark and avoid" or the "reject" elements of separation, or does it? With fellow believers who are wrong on points of doctrine, I see separation being much less than with blatant apostates and heretics. I think there is more going on with separation than just non-fellowship.

That being said, there is much to commend Bauder's model here, from my perspective. And I totally agree with him about the level of agreement needed for speaking at a conference with another person is different than having that same speaker at your church.

Personally, given the complexity of implementing separation commands into local church ministry and practice, we ought to allow latitude in how others implement separation too, rather than saying because so-and-so doesn't separate in the same manner that we do, they don't practice separation and thus are worthy of being written off.

Anyway, my impression is that the 24 part series has reached it's conclusion. I kind of hope a few more parts are in store though. Nevertheless, thanks for a thought provoking series!

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

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wow! the H-word

DavidO wrote:
If Bauder sees Dever as less problematic than Sexton, I imagine Graham would have his own, more severe, level of problematicism (heh).

His point is separation by gradiation, dependant on level of error. You can't throw in a Hitler figure (Graham) and ask why he'd treat him like Dever or Sexton. He wouldn't/we shouldn't.

I can't believe you used the H-word! If I was a sensitive 90s kind of a guy, I would demand an apology.

Listen, Bauder's logic is that where we hold things in common, fellowship OUGHT to be possible. We have a LOT of things in common with Billy Graham.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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DavidO wrote: Dr. Bauder is

DavidO wrote:
Dr. Bauder is making clear that few of his separation choices would be simply binary. He might not have Sexton speak at Central, but would share a conference platform, depending.

Very good. Like I said, this article treats the "limited fellowship" aspect of ministry relationships well. It doesn't address the "mark and avoid" situations which demand complete separation (I Corinthians 5, Titus 3:10, etc.). But for many of our relationships, this is a very good treatment of the problem.

What I don't understand is the prior article. If separation is not simply binary for men like Sexton, why call on us to quickly and publicly separate from him? That sounded awfully "binary", more like Titus 3 or Romans 16. But if Sexton is in the Titus 3 or Romans 16 category, we shouldn't platform share, either, should we?

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Refusal to Fellowship

I echo Roland and Bob here. I don't think defining separation as "absence of fellowship" makes any sense. If a church in Oklahoma doesn't know that a church in Wyoming exists, then there isn't any fellowship going on between them. Yet, it would be absurd to say, merely on that basis, that they are practicing separation. If that were so, then all Christians are practicing much more separation than any of us have supposed!

Rather, it makes much more sense to say that separation is the refusal to fellowship, either totally or in limited respects. It's not until Barrett asks Bauder to plant a church with him that Bauder has to say, "Sorry, I can't do that." It's that decision, or the pre-commitment to make that decision should the situation ever arise, that makes separation.

On another point, I still find it strange to hear Baptists talk about separation. I mean, if you're independent and autonomous, being "separate" seems to be the default mode. Why should separation be such a grievous thing?

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Platform

I appreciated the spirit in this article and agree with JG that it differs from the previous one. I grant Dr. Bauder the benefit of the doubt that he has thought through this current article more carefully. Dr. Bauder has preached in our pulpit on several occasions in the past and I have deeply appreciated his messages and personal fellowship. He has courage to tackle difficult issues publicly.

Platform fellowship is determined in part by the nature of the platform itself. The World Congress of Fundamentlists will have a much broader platform than a typical FBFI national meeting. Part of the misunderstanding regarding fellowship is that we mistakenly try to fit too many ideas into the word "fundamental". I am a fundamentalist; however, the term fundamental only describes in part what I am. I am also a Baptist, a dispensationalist, Calvinistic (not Calvinist), cultural conservative, etc. When one endeavors to squeeze the latter descriptions into the term fundamentalist, it does create the misconception that fundamentalism is literally "everythingism," to borrow KB's nomenclature.

Personally, I have spoken side by side with Free Presbyterians on a WCF platform. However, I don't invite FP's to preach at FBCT. I view them similarly as does KB to Dr. Michael Barret, one of my former biblical language professors at BJU. The platform itself normally helps to define the implications of sharing the platform together. In the case of the FBFI, KB was preaching on the FBFI platform which specifically defines its position on bibliology, translations, and preservation. KB identified himself with that platform both by his membership in the FBFI and his preaching at the Conference. Had KB spoken with favorability at a KJVO conference where the platform directly represented the errors and distortions so commonly propagated by that movement, then the identification would be significantly different.

Pastor Mike Harding

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I should be clear that I

I should be clear that I don't pretend to speak for Dr. Bauder. I just pretend to understand him. ;)

JG, my assumption is that Bauder here gives anecdotal explanation for what he thinks the separation from Sexton should look like.

Don, Graham has played the part of Hitler in these discussions for a long time. Your nutshell of Bauder there omits "some form of limited" before "fellowship OUGHT". That may simply play out as, "I will not refuse to return your phone calls."

Roland et al, I think Bauder's definition of boundary and center in the paragraphs prior render your concerns moot. He's talking about intentional separation.

I'll step out of this now. Dr. Bauder has an SI account, and I could be misreading . . .

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Presbyterian Separation

Charlie wrote:

On another point, I still find it strange to hear Baptists talk about separation. I mean, if you're independent and autonomous, being "separate" seems to be the default mode. Why should separation be such a grievous thing?

Charlie, do you (or your presbytery) fellowship with the presbyteries that hold to the Federal Vision?

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Platform Fellowship

Mike Harding wrote:
Personally, I have spoken side by side with Free Presbyterians on a WCF platform. However, I don't invite FP's to preach at FBCT.

This seems to be personal application and not have anything to do with biblical separation per se. So someone can speak with someone else on a platform in one venue (conference, college) who they would not invite to speak in their church pulpit or would not accept an invitation to speak in the other’s church pulpit. It comes down to how far we believe we can go with a brother in gospel-centered fellowship. Pastors and churches may differ on their application of who to invite to their church. That should be expected but we should grant great liberty to others to disagree with our application and choices. I can’t think of many men with whom I would speak at a conference who I couldn’t invite to speak at my church or couldn’t accept an invitation to their church. Of course, there may be reasons for which I wouldn’t invite them or wouldn’t go – like they can’t preach or I don’t have the time to go away – but couldn’t and wouldn’t are not the same.

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Ted Bigelow][quote=Charlie

Ted Bigelow ][quote=Charlie wrote:

Charlie, do you (or your presbytery) fellowship with the presbyteries that hold to the Federal Vision?

Well, I don't know that any presbyteries officially hold to the FV. Many of the FV people believe that they are interpreting the WCF correctly. However, in 2007 the PCA adopted resolutions against FV teaching. There may be individual pastors in the PCA who hold to FV ideas, but my impression is that most of them have been cordially shown the way out.

http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/pcafvreport.pdf

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CREC

Charlie wrote:
Ted Bigelow wrote:
Charlie wrote:

Charlie, do you (or your presbytery) fellowship with the presbyteries that hold to the Federal Vision?

Well, I don't know that any presbyteries officially hold to the FV. Many of the FV people believe that they are interpreting the WCF correctly. However, in 2007 the PCA adopted resolutions against FV teaching. There may be individual pastors in the PCA who hold to FV ideas, but my impression is that most of them have been cordially shown the way out.

http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/pcafvreport.pdf

Charlie, would you (or your presbytery) be in fellowship, or separation, with the CREC presbyteries: http://crechurches.org/churches/

Follow - up question -

What passage(s) in Scripture lead you to a Presbyterian (i.e. Connectional-Representational) view of polity. Thanks.

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Willing to interact, but...

Several members of SI have posted relevant questions, caveats, and even objections in the followup to this essay. I'd actually like to interact a bit, but it's going to be tough. The next few days are pretty packed. I won't be able to respond to every enquiry, but I'll try to keep the conversation flowing a bit at a time. At some point we shall have worn this subject out, not because it will be exhausted, but because we shall be.

First, a response to JG. I believe that the same principles ought to guide our decisions about fellowship and its obverse, separation, under all circumstances. These principles are:

1) Fellowship is gospel-bounded. No Christian fellowship of any sort exists where the gospel is not held in common.

2) Fellowship is whole-counsel-of-God centered. To the extent that we hold the whole counsel of God together in its integrity, the actuality of our objective or real fellowship is increased. To the extent that we do not hold it together in its integrity, the actuality of our objective or real fellowship is decreased.

3) Experiential fellowship may be limited by any number of factors, one of which is the extent or degree of our actual fellowship. It is hypocritical to engaged in joint effort when it assumes a level of commonality that we do not share.

4) When we weigh decisions about subjective or experiential fellowship, our goal should be to fellowship where we can, separate where we must, and love withal.

These principles are identical in every instance. It is there application that may vary from one circumstance to another. I apply these principles to Dr. Barrett, to pastor Dever, and to pastor Sexton. What I find is that I do actually hold some things in common with Dever and Sexton that I do not hold in common with Barrett (ordinances and church order). I hold some things in common with Sexton and Barrett that I do not hold in common with Dever (millennialism). I hold some things in common with Barrett and Dever that I do not hold with Sexton (acknowledgment of non-KJV version as the Word of God).

These things do not weigh the same theologically. Mutatis mutandis, Baptism rightly administered is more important and more urgent than millennialism, and so (I think) is church order. I think that respect for the Word of God is more important than either. Again mutatis mutandis, (considering these three issues only), I could be a member at Capitol Hill. I could not become a Free Presbyterian or seek membership at Temple Baptist. I could preach for Dever (but not on eschatology) or Barrett (but not on church order, the ordinances, or eschatology). I could not preach for Sexton.

If we introduce the issue of separatism, I find that I have much more in common with Barrett than I do with either Dever or Sexton. Dever maintains connections to his Left with which I am quite uncomfortable. Sexton does the same with people to his Right. In principle, Barrett seeks to balance his separatism in much the same way that I do (though I do not mean to make him liable for my applications by saying that). As a separatist, I am much more comfortable with Barrett than with either of the other two.

The most egregious error is the one that Sexton advocates. The New American Standard Version is the Word of God. The New International Version is the Word of God. The English Standard Version is the Word of God. For someone to insist that they are not is to show contempt for the Word of God. I believe that this is grave error, every bit as serious as anything that Billy Graham has done.

Now, please notice that I apply the same principles in each case, but the outcome is different. The different outcomes occur because (a) the situations are different, and (b) I don't think that either fellowship or separation is necessarily all-or-nothing.

Several years ago I was invited by Dr. Barrett to preach for a commencement at Geneva Reformed Seminary. I was happy to do that, and would do it again if asked. In the case of Crown College, however, Dr. Sexton is not likely to extend an invitation, and if he does I am not likely to accept it. It would be easier to justify preaching at Capitol Hill (where I am not likely to be invited) than it would be to justify preaching at Temple or Crown.

I weigh involvement with KJO in almost exactly the same way that I weigh involvement with neoevangelicals (and by that use of the term, I mean real ones, not people like Carson or Piper). Again, however, fellowship is not necessarily all-or-nothing. Because neoevangelicals are (or were) inside the gospel boundary, some level of fellowship is possible.

In fact, I will go a step further. Not only is some fellowship possible with neoevangelicals, but I have actually engaged in it. So have many other Fundamentalists, even very conservative, separatistic ones. But that's another story. Probably I should cite a specific instance in one of these posts.

Are you beginning to see how, in my thinking, the same principles produce different results under different circumstances?

To be clear, I am not claiming that either my principles or my applications are above being challenged. What I am trying to do is to give you a glimpse inside my mind. You can't really argue with either my principles or my applications if you don't understand what I'm thinking. (Well, you could, but then you'd become another caricature of Fundamentalism--a regular Cartooniac).

My method in all three cases is the same: fellowship where I can, separate where I must, love withal. This method, however, does not ineluctably produce identical results.

More later.

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thanks

Thanks for the article.

I have recently been enjoying fellowship with an OPC minister . . . (1) sitting under him in a Greek class, and (2) last Sunday evening, relishing his church family's presentation of 9 Christmas lessons through Scripture reading and serious sacred music. My heart was stirred in affections toward the Savior.

I could not become a member there; but I think I have more in common with this dear brother than the independent Baptist church across town. But I love some of the brothers and sisters, too, at that Baptist church where I grew up as a child.

"Fellowship where I can, separate where I must, love withal"
- I understand this statement.

thanks again,
et

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Kevin T. Bauder wrote: First,

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
First, a response to JG. I believe that the same principles ought to guide our decisions about fellowship and its obverse, separation, under all circumstances.

Thank you, Dr. Bauder. I believe your response is sound and Biblical. The difficulty is always in proper and consistent application, but the principles do not change. I appreciate the time you have taken to answer.

Your previous article left me with a distinctly different impression. If you do as someone suggested and put these articles into book form, I would urge you to give that chapter some serious consideration -- at best, it confused some of your readers as to your intent.

I came out of conservative evangelicalism. I know what it is, and I could never go back. There are very serious problems in conservative evangelicalism -- their "camp" is (amazingly) a bigger mess than the fundamentalist "camp". But "mark and avoid" is not a Biblical response to conservative evangelicalism. Many of these men are godly men who love the Lord and it is manifest in their lives and ministries.

We differ somewhat on neoevangelicalism, because I am persuaded that the nature of their error makes almost absolute ecclesiastical separation necessary (it would distract from this thread to elaborate, but if you write an article on neoevangelicals I will try to comment). As to conservative evangelicals, we are in broad agreement on principle, if not on application. I appreciate your efforts to grapple with the question of how and where we should draw the lines in our ministry relationships with these men. It is something I have had to consider extensively since becoming a fundamentalist, and the answers are not always as simple as some make them out to be.

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What Is Fellowship?

I don't think I made a point very well earlier, so here is another try. When I was a Baptist, I never understood separation. As a Presbyterian, I still can't really wrap my head around what separation means for Baptists. It seems like half a doctrine. After 24 installments, I still don't have any clarity on the issues that have always confused me. Here is my confusion:

1) Separation seems to imply prior unity, or at least the duty to be unified. When a man and his wife stop living together, we say they are separated. We don't say that about two strangers.

2) Baptist polity, which features the independence and autonomy of the local church, does not seem to establish a duty to be unified. All things necessary to the government and function of the church are supposed to reside at the local level. So, the local church does not need any external ties to be a church.

3) Does the local church have any duty to cooperate with other churches in its endeavors? Must it combine resources with other churches for church planting? Must it join with other churches to support a college? May it do those things? There does not seem to be clarity in Baptist theology about the requirements and permissions of unity.

4) If local churches have significant duties to cooperate with one another in gospel endeavors, that pushes us toward connectionalism. Apparently, the local church does need other churches to carry out its business. On the other hand, if there are no significant duties, only permission, then the choice not to use that permission is not so grievous. No one is violating a duty by refusing to cooperate. It's just an option not exercised.

Ted, if you want to talk more about Presbyterian separation, I'd suggest opening a new thread.

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Intentional nonfellowship vs. separation

Charlie wrote:
I echo Roland and Bob here. I don't think defining separation as "absence of fellowship" makes any sense. If a church in Oklahoma doesn't know that a church in Wyoming exists, then there isn't any fellowship going on between them. Yet, it would be absurd to say, merely on that basis, that they are practicing separation. If that were so, then all Christians are practicing much more separation than any of us have supposed!

Rather, it makes much more sense to say that separation is the refusal to fellowship, either totally or in limited respects. It's not until Barrett asks Bauder to plant a church with him that Bauder has to say, "Sorry, I can't do that." It's that decision, or the pre-commitment to make that decision should the situation ever arise, that makes separation.

I'm inclined to agree but would take it even further. There's pretty much always been a punitive (or at least censorious) aspect to separation, seems to me. It can be pretty mild, but it is supposed to be a way of saying "I/we believe your faith and/or practice are wrong in area A to the extent that we can't work together as we otherwise would."
Intentional non-fellowship is an even broader category (would include the above, but more). There are ministries our church would not do certain things with simply because we have a strong difference of opinion that impacts how we would do those things. But we intend nothing punitive at all by our non-fellowship. It's intentional but not a claim to rightness in contrast to wrongness.

Charlie wrote:
2) Baptist polity, which features the independence and autonomy of the local church, does not seem to establish a duty to be unified. All things necessary to the government and function of the church are supposed to reside at the local level. So, the local church does not need any external ties to be a church.

3) Does the local church have any duty to cooperate with other churches in its endeavors? Must it combine resources with other churches for church planting? Must it join with other churches to support a college? May it do those things? There does not seem to be clarity in Baptist theology about the requirements and permissions of unity.

4) If local churches have significant duties to cooperate with one another in gospel endeavors, that pushes us toward connectionalism. Apparently, the local church does need other churches to carry out its business. On the other hand, if there are no significant duties, only permission, then the choice not to use that permission is not so grievous. No one is violating a duty by refusing to cooperate. It's just an option not exercised.

I think these are really good questions. Perhaps someone involved in the Preserving the Truth event coming up will take note of them? I intend to be there so maybe there will be an opportunity to put these out there and chew on them a bit.

Off hand, I have to say that in my own experience as a Baptist, we have not felt much of an obligation to do stuff jointly with other churches. But many Baptists I know do feel that obligation very strongly. It's just that the extent, form, frequency etc. of the fellowship/joint endeavor is not formalized. In a denominational situation, or a presbyterian polity, you have some "outside the local level" relationships that are quite formalized--all spelled out. There is the main difference. With independent Baptists, the degree and form of connection with other churches is a matter of liberty--each participating church charts its own course.

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we interrupt this debate

DavidO wrote:
If Bauder sees Dever as less problematic than Sexton, I imagine Graham would have his own, more severe, level of problematicism (heh).

His point is separation by gradiation, dependant on level of error. You can't throw in a Hitler figure (Graham) and ask why he'd treat him like Dever or Sexton. He wouldn't/we shouldn't.

Ladies and Gents, the SI Godwin Award goes to DavidO and that may be the fastest manifestation of Godwin's Law I've ever seen in a serious discussion. By the commonly-accepted rules of internet argumentation, DavidO has officially lost the debate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law ][img=224x224 ]/sites/default/files/images/10_02/godwin.jpg[/img ]

We now return to your regularly-scheduled scholarly debate.

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Thanks mounty - never hear of

Thanks mounty - never hear of Godwin's Law before (had to look it up).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Are we missing something?

What is the purpose of separating from a brother in Christ?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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Purpose

The purpose of separation is correction for the erring brother.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Charlie - good topic

Baptist theology about the requirements and permissions of unity

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incorrect purpose

Jay C. wrote:
The purpose of separation is correction for the erring brother.

No, Jay, that is not true. The purpose of separation is to protect the flock. Acts 20. The purpose of discipline is for correcting an erring brother in the local assembly. Mt 18 and 1 Cor 5.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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does that mean I won?

mounty wrote:
Ladies and Gents, the SI Godwin Award goes to DavidO and that may be the fastest manifestation of Godwin's Law I've ever seen in a serious discussion. By the commonly-accepted rules of internet argumentation, DavidO has officially lost the debate.

Actually, though, I was the one that brought up Graham, which in fundamentalist argumentation might be the same kind of argument. In which case David would be right and I would have lost.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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missappropriation

Obviously I'd agree with Don on who actually pulled the (so-called) Godwin, and the supposed loss of debate is only a corollary to the actual law.

Nuances, people. :bigsmile:

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the ruling on the field stands

Don Johnson wrote:
mounty wrote:
Ladies and Gents, the SI Godwin Award goes to DavidO and that may be the fastest manifestation of Godwin's Law I've ever seen in a serious discussion. By the commonly-accepted rules of internet argumentation, DavidO has officially lost the debate.

Actually, though, I was the one that brought up Graham, which in fundamentalist argumentation might be the same kind of argument. In which case David would be right and I would have lost.

DavidO wrote:
Obviously I'd agree with Don on who actually pulled the (so-called) Godwin, and the supposed loss of debate is only a corollary to the actual law.

Nuances, people. :bigsmile:

The ruling on the field was a personal foul. That foul is under review.

The way I see it, when discussion issues of separation, referencing Billy Graham is to be expected since the modern model of separation is based squarely upon the separation reaction when Graham did his thing. So in the context of this discussion, I wouldn't consider bringing up Graham to be an A-bomb-caliber event, any more than comparisons to Hitler would be shocking in a thread about mass murderers. So if we were talking about, say, our favorite sports teams, and I dropped the H-bomb after learning you were a Dallas Cowboys fan (or compared Jerry Jones to Hitler), I would automatically lose the argument; likewise if we were discussing our favorite brand of communion cracker (?) and I dropped the G-bomb after finding out you used kosher matzo wafers instead of Keeblers, I think you could rightfully claim Godwin's Law on me and shut me down. In this case, though, I think the initial introduction of Graham to the discussion was bound to happen and acceptable in the context. Casting Graham as the Hitler of the theological realm, though, is what drew the penalty.

After further review, the ruling on the field stands. The foul carries 15-yard penalty and results in an automatic first down. Play on! Biggrin

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Actually, going back and

Actually, going back and re-reading Don's comment, his phrasing doesn't equate Dever to Graham in the way I originally read it to have, so I would have to admit the leap to extremity was more mine than his.

Hopefully I can avoid a fine from the commissioner.

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Me either...

Charlie wrote:
As a Presbyterian, I still can't really wrap my head around what separation means for Baptists. It seems like half a doctrine. After 24 installments, I still don't have any clarity on the issues that have always confused me.

Charlie -

I think you nailed it! I don't understand it either. In one of the first posts in this series I commented that it seems that the IFBs have an unhealthily strong affection for the denominational mindset. *Some* factions of the movement seem obsessed with a constant re-evaluation of 'who is on my team.' Perhaps this is a by-product of the separation from liberal denomination battles that took place in the 40s and 50s - I'm not sure. I'm learning though, from the folks here at SI.com, that not all IFBs see the world that way - but I think many still do.

By the way, I believe the Free Presbyterians allow Baptizing congregations.

I also believe that Dr. Barrett is a pre-tribulationist - believe it or not. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe he's the only non-dispensational pre-tribulationist I've ever heard of.

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Both... and

Don Johnson wrote:
Jay C. wrote:
The purpose of separation is correction for the erring brother.

No, Jay, that is not true. The purpose of separation is to protect the flock. Acts 20. The purpose of discipline is for correcting an erring brother in the local assembly. Mt 18 and 1 Cor 5.

It's not either-or. In the case of Acts 20, though, I think he's not talking about erring brothers but pseudo-brothers. "Wolves," he calls them.
In any case, separation--like discipline--in the case of a brother should be seen as both corrective and preservative, don't you think?

(On Godwin's Law... nothing personal. We just thought the thread could use a little humor.)

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I thought I posted this

I thought I posted this earlier, but apparently it didn't "take." I have observed the following in my wrestlings with separatio over the years.

1) Many of the NT texts used to teach the doctrine of separation are given to local churches as instructions for church discipline. Although they may well have broader application beyond local churches, they should first be understood and applied as given for the purpose for which they were intended. Until this is being done faithfully, it is questionable whether they can be properly applied to a either individual relationships, nor broader Christian relationships.

2) The NT teaches as much about unity as it does about separation. If we are not giving the unity passages equal emphasis, we are almost certain to become unbalanced in our understanding of separation. We can, we the best of intentions, run into the ditch because we failed to hold all Biblical truth in proper balance.

This has been a helpful discussion. Thanks to all who contributed.

Warm regards,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

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AndrewSuttles wrote: Charlie

AndrewSuttles wrote:
Charlie wrote:
As a Presbyterian, I still can't really wrap my head around what separation means for Baptists. It seems like half a doctrine. After 24 installments, I still don't have any clarity on the issues that have always confused me.

Charlie -

I think you nailed it! I don't understand it either. In one of the first posts in this series I commented that it seems that the IFBs have an unhealthily strong affection for the denominational mindset. *Some* factions of the movement seem obsessed with a constant re-evaluation of 'who is on my team.' Perhaps this is a by-product of the separation from liberal denomination battles that took place in the 40s and 50s - I'm not sure. I'm learning though, from the folks here at SI.com, that not all IFBs see the world that way - but I think many still do.

By the way, I believe the Free Presbyterians allow Baptizing congregations.

I also believe that Dr. Barrett is a pre-tribulationist - believe it or not. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe he's the only non-dispensational pre-tribulationist I've ever heard of.

Why do Baptists need to be protected from Presbyterians?

The Free Presbyterian Church takes no position on baptism other than to deny baptismal regeneration.

And Dr. Barrett is not the only one. Smile

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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Aaron Blumer wrote: Don

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Don Johnson wrote:
Jay C. wrote:
The purpose of separation is correction for the erring brother.

No, Jay, that is not true. The purpose of separation is to protect the flock. Acts 20. The purpose of discipline is for correcting an erring brother in the local assembly. Mt 18 and 1 Cor 5.

It's not either-or. In the case of Acts 20, though, I think he's not talking about erring brothers but pseudo-brothers. "Wolves," he calls them.
In any case, separation--like discipline--in the case of a brother should be seen as both corrective and preservative, don't you think?

Aaron did an admirable job filling in for me. Yes, I am making a distinction between how we treat apostates, heretics, and infidels (separation to preserve purity of doctrine), and people who are Christians who are wrong but who are actually Christ's people (separation for the purpose of correction). Nor do I think that separation is always hard and fast and easy to know when to implement...as the Graham controversies from the mid to late 50's and resulting migrations within the Evangelical movement show.

I am (semi) concerned when I read posts like yours, Don, because it makes you sound like separation is the first line of defense for anything that doesn't agree with the holder's position, and I don't see that in the Scriptures. Am I misreading you?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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separation isn't for discipline

Jay C. wrote:
I am making a distinction between how we treat apostates, heretics, and infidels (separation to preserve purity of doctrine), and people who are Christians who are wrong but who are actually Christ's people (separation for the purpose of correction).

I think there is a difference between how we deal with Christ's people. As I have often said, I think we overuse the term separation and it does cause some confusion.

Jay C. wrote:
I am (semi) concerned when I read posts like yours, Don, because it makes you sound like separation is the first line of defense for anything that doesn't agree with the holder's position, and I don't see that in the Scriptures. Am I misreading you?

Let's put it this way. Suppose we have a brother in town with whom we have had some fellowship, we have maybe supported the same camp ministry, held joint youth meetings, etc. But the brother starts embracing and promoting emerging/emergent philosophy in his ministry. I express my disagreement and find him unrepentant. So far so good.

Now, what elders can I take him before? What assembly can I take him before assuming I can find some elders? THERE IS NO DISCIPLINARY PROCESS OUTSIDE THE LOCAL CHURCH.

Any separation decisions I would make about this brother would be with my local assembly in mind. I would leave any correction of him up to God. My goals are protecting the flock, not discipline.

I believe that besides some confusion as a result of the term 'separation', there is also widespread confusion and mis-application of church discipline passages. These passages are NOT separation passages.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Free Pres Not Typical Presbyterians

AndrewSuttles wrote:

By the way, I believe the Free Presbyterians allow Baptizing congregations.

I also believe that Dr. Barrett is a pre-tribulationist - believe it or not. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe he's the only non-dispensational pre-tribulationist I've ever heard of.

Hardly any confessional Presbyterians consider the Free Pres church really Presbyterian. They have way more in common with Baptist Fundamentalists than with PCA or OPC folk. You'll notice that most of their pastors have degrees from Bob Jones, not Presbyterian schools. Many of their pastors, perhaps including Barrett, wouldn't meet ordination standards in http://www.naparc.org/ NAPARC churches. I speak from knowlege; I attended Faith Free Pres while at Bob Jones. The Presbyterians in town refer to it as the "halfway house."

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Halfway House

Charlie wrote:
The Presbyterians in town refer to it as the "halfway house."

I'm surprised. I thought Presbyterians who left NAPARC were only subject to church courts. Now they, as part of their chastisement, have to live in a half-way house too?

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A couple of notes

The article and comments have been generally helpful and clarifying. A couple of follow-ups:
1. Pulpit & platform fellowship does come into play and is used as a basis of separation (think Billy Graham having a Catholic on the platform) so there is some potential liability there. I realize we are talking about a false teacher as opposed to a believer in that instance. Because it has been used in the past, folks who are trying to create "a more perfect Fundamentalism" have narrowed it to where acts such as being with Dever or Sexton are now thought of as punishable acts.
2. Does pulpit fellowship also imply organizational fellowship? For example, does Bauder's pulpit presence imply approval of Central Seminary? Isn't this a legitimate issue?

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Fellowship with a New Evangelical

In 2003 I had just become the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. That October I made my first trip as president to Watertown, Wisconsin, to visit Maranatha Baptist Bible College. As I recall, I had been invited to preach in chapel.

One of the professors asked me if I would like to meet Carl F. H. Henry. For those who may not know, Henry was one of the original New Evangelicals. His book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, was one of the manifestos of the New Evangelical movement. He was an early professor at Fuller and became the first editor of Christianity Today. Late in life he retired to Watertown, and as his health failed he entered a nursing home there.

At least one faculty wife from Maranatha was employed by the nursing home, and she developed a warm relationship with Dr. and Mrs. Henry. Based on that relationship, the professor thought that he could easily get me an audience.

Of course I was interested in meeting the man. Who wouldn't be? He embodied a lifetime of evangelical history. He was probably the most significant evangelical theologian of his generation.

When we entered Henry's room, he was lying in bed. Mrs. Henry was there, and she rose to greet us. She positioned herself between her husband and his visitors. If any comment was addressed to Dr. Henry, she immediately intercepted it and gave her own answer. Henry said nothing.

Two things were apparent. First, Henry was suffering and did not have long to live. Second, Mrs. Henry was protecting him. Under these circumstances, continued intrusion was unthinkable.

I turned to Mrs. Henry and asked, "Would you mind if we read the Scriptures and prayed with you and your husband?" She immediately stepped aside and said, "Oh, please do."

Essentially, I performed the "hospital drill." I read most comforting Scriptures (out of the King James Version, of course), talked about heaven, encouraged Dr. and Mrs. Henry with words of Jesus' return and the coming resurrection, then prayed for God's grace to be upon them.

Did this constitute fellowship with a neoevangelical? In retrospect, the answer seems obvious. At the moment, however, I had ceased to think of Henry as a New Evangelical, as a theologian, or even as a churchman. I saw only a brother and sister who were suffering and whose souls hungered for the hope of the gospel.

As I turned to leave, Mrs. Henry caught my arm. With tears in her eyes she said, "We are so grateful for the people from Maranatha Baptist Bible College. They read the Bible to us. They pray with us. None of our old friends come to see us any more."

Within about two months, Dr. Henry was with his Lord.

What an irony that in the hour of his death, the people who loved and prayed for the old neoevangelical and who ministered to him were Fundamentalists.

Should they (we) have separated from him, or perhaps even rebuked him as he lay dying?

If not, then what difference was there between fellowshipping with Henry at his bedside versus preaching at a conference with him versus teaching on the same faculty versus serving on the same pastoral staff?

Does mutual encouragement in the gospel (such as the Henrys and I enjoyed) constitute or necessitate or imply some sort of an "emerging middle" in which our difference pale into insignificance?

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A Legacy

of Dr. Cedarholm's graciousness. Dr. C was a Fundamental Northern Baptist not a Baptist Fundamentalist.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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my response to KB's questions

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
Should they (we) have separated from him, or perhaps even rebuked him as he lay dying?

If not, then what difference was there between fellowshipping with Henry at his bedside versus preaching at a conference with him versus teaching on the same faculty versus serving on the same pastoral staff?

Does mutual encouragement in the gospel (such as the Henrys and I enjoyed) constitute or necessitate or imply some sort of an "emerging middle" in which our difference pale into insignificance?

Should you have separated? On a personal level? Of course not! Sometimes people talk about "coffee shop fellowship" when they speak of the personal level of fellowship. That's really not correct, because we can have coffee with lost people. But what you describe with Dr. Henry is Christian fellowship on a personal level. You can read Scriptures with a dying lost person, but there is no real fellowship there, is there? You can pray with a fellow believer and both of you are communing with the eternal Father Son and Holy Spirit. We can have that kind of fellowship, really, with any believer. If given such an opportunity with a saint like Henry or even the much vilified Billy Graham, you would have to be an utter churl to refuse such fellowship.

So then, to the next question: obviously sharing platforms is ecclesiastical cooperation and partnership in some measure. It means something with respect to the fundamentalist position. It appears that we are yet again wrestling with what it means. I don't propose to argue that question, but visiting Henry at his bedside really has not much to do with the answer to it.

No, such fellowship implies no 'emerging middle', it implies genuine faith in Christ which I am confident we all share.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Ted Bigelow wrote: Charlie

Ted Bigelow wrote:
Charlie wrote:
The Presbyterians in town refer to it as the "halfway house."

I'm surprised. I thought Presbyterians who left NAPARC were only subject to church courts. Now they, as part of their chastisement, have to live in a half-way house too?

Well, technically, NAPARC isn't a governing body. The member denominations aren't "subject" to each other.

I'm not speaking ill of the Free Pres people. I have many good friends who are Free Pres, and I know several of their ministers. That said, when the denomination is compared to other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations (hence the NAPARC reference), they come off seeming very eccentric. Their whole ethos and set of priorities is more Fundamentalist than NAPARC. I believe both Ian and Kyle Paisley have spoken at Bob Jones and Crown College. I wonder if they've spoken at Geneva or Covenant or Grove City (I honestly don't know).

So, all I'm saying is that Ligon Duncan or R. C. Sproul is more typical of mainstream conservative Presbyterianism than is Cairns or Barrett. If people want to compare how Fundamental Baptists operate with how Presbyterians operate, the Free Pres church might not be the best denomination to represent Presbyterianism.

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Eccentric?

Charlie wrote:

Well, technically, NAPARC isn't a governing body. The member denominations aren't "subject" to each other.

I'm not speaking ill of the Free Pres people. I have many good friends who are Free Pres, and I know several of their ministers. That said, when the denomination is compared to other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations (hence the NAPARC reference), they come off seeming very eccentric. Their whole ethos and set of priorities is more Fundamentalist than NAPARC. I believe both Ian and Kyle Paisley have spoken at Bob Jones and Crown College. I wonder if they've spoken at Geneva or Covenant or Grove City (I honestly don't know).

So, all I'm saying is that Ligon Duncan or R. C. Sproul is more typical of mainstream conservative Presbyterianism than is Cairns or Barrett. If people want to compare how Fundamental Baptists operate with how Presbyterians operate, the Free Pres church might not be the best denomination to represent Presbyterianism.

Well put, Charlie. Still, if I were Free Church (and Michael Barrett is a friend of mine), how could I not pick up a tone of condescension?

Perhaps some day I'll post an article on polity here on SI to generate debate; my book on it comes out next month. However, it is not a defense of Baptist polity, which differs from church to church, and century to century.

When I asked you for the Scriptures you appreciate most, that led you to embrace Presbyterian polity, I was sincerely looking to understand, not debate. Its a question I've interacted with M Barrett on as well.

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Judgmental?

Dr. Bauder wrote:
The most egregious error is the one that Sexton advocates. The New American Standard Version is the Word of God. The New International Version is the Word of God. The English Standard Version is the Word of God. For someone to insist that they are not is to show contempt for the Word of God. [emphasis added ]I believe that this is grave error, every bit as serious as anything that Billy Graham has done.
According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, contempt means:
Quote:
Definition of CONTEMPT

1
a : the act of despising : the state of mind of one who despises : disdain
b : lack of respect or reverence for something
2
: the state of being despised
3
: willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body

All three definitions point to "state of mind" or willful disdain. Thus,Dr. Bauder is obviously making a statement about the "state of mind" of KJV advocates such as Dr. Sexton, Crown College, and Temple Baptist Church. He cannot know their mental status from a simple behavior with which he disagrees. He can say they are wrong based on their professed beliefs and argue against them but he cannot know their thoughts and motivations until they reveal them. This is essentially what being judgmental means. Perhaps Dr. Bauder used the wrong word and would like to retract.

We cannot accuse Dr. Sexton and other KJV proponents of despising the Word of God although one may disagree with their position. Dr. Sexton and others obviously love God's Word and sincerely believe that they are defending it! One may argue that they are mistaken but one cannot say they are " show[ing ] contempt for the Word of God."

In an earlier post, I challenged Dr. Bauder and others to view the KJV position outside their own narrow paradigm--to walk in other shoes for sake of perspective. If one believes the KJV to be the authoritative Word of God, how can he simultaneously affirm other differing versions? Are there multiple Words of God? How do we know which is authoritative at the differing points?

Now, let's hear you guys answer the questions!

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What is separation?

What is separation? This is a well-worn shoe. Although Greg Barkman has pointed out that many of the verses we use regarding separation are for personal separation from individuals, we may argue that separation as an act means the same whether ecclesiastical or individual. Thus, we see separation as complete and absolute. For example, the Apostle Paul admonishes us not to associate, not even to eat, with a disorderly brother (I Corinthians 5:11). Isn't it obvious that selective separation, as to pick and choose the areas where we associate, is no separation at all. Although we may limit our association, as we are entitled to do, it is not separation unless it is a complete disengagement.

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Is it possible to separate

Is it possible to separate from a brother who doesn't know you?

What is accomplished by separation from a brother who doesn't know you?

What gives a pastor the right to declare that his church is separate from another ministry?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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we need a different word

Ron Bean wrote:
Is it possible to separate from a brother who doesn't know you?

What is accomplished by separation from a brother who doesn't know you?

What gives a pastor the right to declare that his church is separate from another ministry?

Ron, those are the wrong questions to ask, and, I think, the wrong word. I agree with Roland here in that the idea of separation is an absolute idea. Either you are separated or not, it is a binary term.

And I don't think that even 'limited fellowship' is appropriate for some distant ministry that you would have very little reason or opportunity to be in cooperation with anyway.

But there are ministries that have wide public influence (through books, media and internet) which we may have to mark with our people and teach them to avoid, or at least avoid certain aspects of their teaching. It is our pastoral responsibility. The pastoral epistles constantly admonish preachers to be proactive in dealing with error and false teaching. There is plenty of that to go around these days and when our folks come to us and ask us about some preacher it behooves us to either know a bit about them or to learn something about them to give our folks wise Scriptural guidance.

I think you probably do this, but the way you ask the questions seems to imply that preachers should never be discerning or even critical of other ministries.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Wow

Don scores triple word points with "utter churl."

Well played, sir.

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RPittman wrote: In an earlier

RPittman wrote:
In an earlier post, I challenged Dr. Bauder and others to view the KJV position outside their own narrow paradigm--to walk in other shoes for sake of perspective. If one believes the KJV to be the authoritative Word of God, how can he simultaneously affirm other differing versions? Are there multiple Words of God? How do we know which is authoritative at the differing points?

Now, let's hear you guys answer the questions!

Roland, we have answered this question repeatedly. It has been answered countless times in books and debates on this issue. The KJV translators themselves answered it. It's really not that complicated.

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Quote: If one believes the

Quote:
If one believes the KJV to be the authoritative Word of God, how can he simultaneously affirm other differing versions?
Very easily ... by affirming the truth of Scripture.

Quote:
Are there multiple Words of God?
Obviously. This has never been debated until recent church history, and isn't really debated now. All but the most radical of KJVOs affirm this when they affirm that the Word of God is in English, Spanish, French, etc.

Quote:
How do we know which is authoritative at the differing points?
Great point. To listen to Marc and some others, we simply declare by fiat that the version sitting on our desk is the authoritative one. Others believe study gives us more light and is the more appropriate way. In either case, we have to make a choice since God has not declared the matter to us.

But your first question is really missing the point. The question is word as an "If ..." But what is the "If" is wrong? If someone has wrong beliefs then they need to change their beliefs. The fact that wrong beliefs lead them to affirm wrong things does not make it okay, and doing it in good conscience is barely better.

So we need to be addressing the actual issues of truth and authority as revealed by God. A fundamentalist should be the first one to do this. There should be no fundamentalists arguing against it.

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Kevin T. Bauder wrote:If

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
If [Bauder should not have separated from/rebuked Henry while visiting him on his deathbead ], then what difference was there between fellowshipping with Henry at his bedside versus preaching at a conference with him versus teaching on the same faculty versus serving on the same pastoral staff?

I'll take a shot at this one. I suspect even Dr. Bauder sees a difference between these.

1. At his bedside you were recognizing him as a believer (though somewhat errant) in need of ministry of comfort and encouragement no brother should or, I suspect, could withhold.

2. Had he been healthy and speaking at a conference at which a central theme was "how to deal with denominations dominated by apostates", I doubt you would have been as willing to appear alongside him as you were to comfort him when finding him in personal need.

3. Teaching is a different sort of thing where varying levels of divergent postions on various levels of doctrinal weight are tolerated, depending on the institution. Most of us have attended colleges where we had serious disagreements with one or more of the teachers on something. Could go either way.

4. As far as serving on the same pastoral staff, I don't see how you (I say you since I am in no danger of becoming a pastor anytime in the near future) could serve alongside him. There would probably be too great a divergence in views to "walk together" in agreement.

These four scenarios each seem, to me at least, to carry differerent levels of more or less required agreement in order to proceed with them.

On a totally different note-- I was born in and then lived in Watertown, WI for 27 years; to this day I cannot figure out why someone would ever retire there. :~

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Two questions to answer

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
Iwhat difference was there between fellowshipping with Henry at his bedside versus preaching at a conference with him versus teaching on the same faculty versus serving on the same pastoral staff?

There are immense differences between personal fellowship and "ecclesiastical" (ministry) fellowship.
Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
Does mutual encouragement in the gospel (such as the Henrys and I enjoyed) constitute or necessitate or imply some sort of an "emerging middle" in which our difference pale into insignificance?

"Emerging middle"? No, this is just an example of a principle you expressed very well earlier. Really, it has to do with different types of fellowship limitations. Some of the comments in this thread (and others) indicates some readers lack understanding of the different types, so I'll give a brief overview of Biblical separation -- I see four types of fellowship limitations.

1. We separate completely from false teachers / idolatry(II John 1:9-10, II Corinthians 6:14-17).

2. We separate from those who are divisive (Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10). This includes apostates, but also applies to believers who teach divisive doctrine. We are to "reject" -- a divisive teacher is to be rejected entirely as a teacher. Were one to consider Dr. Henry as divisive, it would not necessarily preclude personal fellowship as you describe, but it would prevent any recognition as a teacher -- platform sharing, serving on the same faculty, etc.

3. We withdraw/don't keep company with those who are directly disobedient (I Corinthians 5, II Thessalonians 3). This teaches how local churches deal with disobedient members who refuse correction and directly and willfully rebel. 3A) By implication, we withdraw from people who have been Biblically disciplined by churches other than our own. 3B) By implication, if a believer obviously (and with sufficient witnesses) is rebellious and should be disciplined but his church refuses to act, we should treat him as if he is under discipline.

Was Carl Henry disobedient? You and I believe he was, but he certainly wasn't under church discipline. Did he intend to rebel, or did he simply misunderstand/misapply Biblical teaching on unity? Should we accuse a man who may (mistakenly) think he is doing right of willful disobedience, and therefore "withdraw" under II Thess. 3/I Cor. 5? His local church failed him, perhaps, but lacking clear evidence of a rebellious heart, Christian charity calls us to "believe all things" (I Corinthians 13) and accept the possibility that he was simply misguided. Do we "withdraw" from the misguided?

Yet, if he is doing wrong (even if he thinks it is right), does that mean we just pretend the problem isn't there? If I am commanded not to assume the worst about his motives, how do I respond? Where does the Scripture tell us to "separate" from a man who is doing wrong but thinks it is right?

For me, one of the most helpful Scriptures for guidance in limiting ministry fellowship is I Timothy 5:22. The passage deals with elders and ministry. The verse tells us not to lay on hands suddenly -- be slow to "ordain" (however one understands that) to the ministry/eldership. The follow-up statement is, "Neither be partaker of other men's sins." The conjunction of the two thoughts gives the warning -- in endorsing a man's ministry, you become a partaker in the sins of his ministry, so be careful who you endorse and put into the ministry. This is the grounds for #4.

4. We must not partake in other men's sins by endorsement. This is the area you adressed in this article. It is not really "separation" -- the Biblical use of that term refers to apostates and idolaters. It is selective non-endorsement of the ministry of a believer who, despite a heart to please the Lord, teaches or practices things that I am persuaded are Biblically wrong, and for me would be sin. To endorse those things would be partaking in sin. Thus, I will have no part in a service where infant baptism is practiced -- I would be endorsing that which I believe to be wrong.

If a man is not an unbelieving false teacher or idolater; if he is not divisive; if I lack evidence that he is willfully disobedient; yet I still must never endorse that which I believe to be sin.

Dr. Barrett's errors are in ecclesiology and eschatology. I could learn Hebrew from him, and can have ecclesiastical fellowship that does not endorse those errors. Nor could I ask him to sin by asking him to fellowship in ways that endorse my beliefs which he holds to be in error. It is mutual "selective non-endorsement". Similarly with Clarence Sexton, or Mark Devers, we can fellowship only in ways that do not endorse the things we believe to be in error. We might have different views as to what constitutes error and what constitutes endorsement, but the principle is the same in all cases -- selective non-endorsement.

The neo-evangelicals rejected separation entirely. Their error was not in English translations, or eschatology, or infant baptism, but in ecclesiastical fellowship. By joining in ecclesiastical fellowship with them, we at least partially endorse their erroneous view and practice of ecclesiastical fellowship. It would be like joining in an infant baptism. Their rejection of separation cut off consistent fundamentalists from virtually any ministry fellowship. This was true even for neo-evangelicals who were not being willfully disobedient. We don't have to know their motives to know we can't join with them in ministry.

In my prior comment, I said the error of neo-evangelicalism called for virtually absolute "ecclesiastical separation". Your experience was obviously not ecclesiastical fellowship, but personal fellowship. It in no way endorses the anti-separatism of Dr. Henry.

What about conservative evangelicals? If they accept and apply separation (from false teachers, those who are divisive, and willfully disobedient brethren) and "selective non-endorsement", they will remove many barriers to fellowship with them. To whatever extent they do not, they create areas where we must selectively non-endorse.

When there is clear evidence of apostasy, divisiveness, or willful disobedience, Scripture teaches complete ecclesiastical separation. That applies to a willfully disobedient evangelist who says, "I know the Scriptures tell us not to fellowship with apostates, but I can reach more people if I let them join my evangelistic campaign." It also applies to a divisive teacher who calls other believers apostates for using the wrong Bible translation. Absent indisputable evidence of divisiveness or willful disobedience, I see no Biblical basis for "separation", but the Bible still mandates what I'm calling "selective non-endorsement."

Personal fellowship rarely constitutes endorsement of ministry errors, and thus the difference between ecclesiastical and personal fellowship. Personal fellowship does not indicate any "middle ground". Rather it is consistent application of the general principle you expressed previously -- fellowship where we can, separate where we must, always love. The unfortunate need to have virtually complete ecclesiastical separation from Dr. Henry did not preclude loving him, and enjoying personal fellowship when God gave the opportunity.

Thank you for the discussion.

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Complicated Issue

Wow. This makes my head spin. I feel like I would have to carry a card around in my billfold to be able to correctly apply all these different levels of separation as the need arises.

Perhaps we can make it more simple. It is never right to endorse the self professed Christian identity of someone who is clearly apostate. When someone goes outside the bottom line boundaries of Christian truth in either of two areas, we must separate, and we must warn those believers who are in danger of being mislead. The two areas are: 1) Orthodox Christian doctrine, primarily focussing upon the Person and Work of Christ, and 2) Appropriate Christian behavior. One may not live in those sins that the NT lists as disciplinary offenses and maintain the endorsement of the Christian community. If the offender's church will not dispipline them, Christians true to the Bible must still treat them as if they were non-believers, no matter their profession.

In lessor matters, a measure of individual discretion must be exercised, and a good deal of latitude ought to be allowed. We must give our Christian brother the right to choose whom he will labor with in Gospel work, even if his choices are not exactly mine. I have not been appointed heavenly policeman for the Body of Christ. Christ will judge His own servants, not me.

Cordially,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

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G. N. Barkman wrote:Wow.

G. N. Barkman wrote:
Wow. This makes my head spin. I feel like I would have to carry a card around in my billfold to be able to correctly apply all these different levels of separation as the need arises.

Perhaps we can make it more simple. It is never right to endorse the self professed Christian identity of someone who is clearly apostate. When someone goes outside the bottom line boundaries of Christian truth in either of two areas, we must separate, and we must warn those believers who are in danger of being mislead. The two areas are: 1) Orthodox Christian doctrine, primarily focussing upon the Person and Work of Christ, and 2) Appropriate Christian behavior. One may not live in those sins that the NT lists as disciplinary offenses and maintain the endorsement of the Christian community. If the offender's church will not dispipline them, Christians true to the Bible must still treat them as if they were non-believers, no matter their profession.


Hello, Greg. Thanks for the comment. I don't know that I view it as "levels" but rather different areas that force us to limit fellowship.

Your two areas leave out divisive teaching, which is clearly Biblical grounds for separation. So you have to have three areas -- divisiveness, unorthodoxy, and ungodly behavior. And "orthodox Christian doctrine" has to go beyond the Person and Work of Christ to include the absolute authority of Scripture and orthodox soteriology, at least (unless you are drawing "Person and Work of Christ" so broadly as to include those doctrines).

The primary focus of this discussion is how we should (and Biblically why we should) limit fellowship with those who are not divisive, or unorthodox, or have not separated themselves by ungodly behavior.

The point is that sometimes it is good and appropriate to limit fellowship, and the Scriptures would appear to endorse that, but this limiting is distinctly different from the separation which is our necessary response to those three areas. As a result, personal fellowship can often go far with a brother though ecclesiastical/ministry fellowship cannot. The appropriateness of personal fellowship tells us nothing about the appropriateness of ministry fellowship, and there is Biblical warrant for the distinction.

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Agreed

Dear JG,

Thanks for the response. I agree with your last post completely. (Which probably means I also agree with your previous one. I just got lost while wading through it, as it seemed overly complicated.)

Cordially,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

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